WQXR's Musical Instrument Drive kicked off on Friday with a public event at the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center, featuring live music, cameos from conductors, and a series of instrument donations.
The event was designed in part to show the impact musical instruments can have on young people. Exhibit A: a salsa and jazz ensemble from the Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (Wheels), a public school in Upper Manhattan (watch a video of the students at the bottom of this page). WQXR vice president and general manager Graham Parker introduced the drive with the band on stage:
Photos by Kim Nowacki
As of Friday, more than 350 instruments have been donated towards a goal of 1,000. The drive runs through April 7, during which time anyone can leave gently used musical instruments at drop off locations in New York City, Northern New Jersey, Westchester and Long Island.
WQXR host Terrance McKnight interviewed a couple of the students on Friday. Ahlenne Abreu, a saxophonist, talked about being the only female horn player in the ensemble ("if a guy can do it, a girl can do it ten times better") and discussed the importance of achieving blend within the ensemble. "Some band mates are too loud, and sometimes the trombones overpower me," she said. "I fight back."
A pair of conductors also lent their visibility to the event: Louis Langree, music director of the Mostly Mozart Festival, donated a baton to the cause (he regretted that an organ remained in France and was rather bulky to ship). And Alan Gilbert, music director of the New York Philharmonic, spoke with host Jeff Spurgeon about the importance of having a violin to play on at an early age.
The musical portion of the event concluded with a performance by Flutronix, a Brooklyn-based flute duo whose music blends classical music, hip-hop and soul. They played to a techno-style beat triggered by a laptop while the WHEELS students looked on with evident curiosity.
LISTEN: In this clip, Joseph Feingold, a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor originally from Poland, talks about the violin he donated. He purchased it on the black market in Germany in the 1940s.
Visit WQXR.org/Kids to learn more about the WQXR Instrument Drive and how you can contribute. Help spread the word on Twitter and Instagram using #GiveMusicNYC.